Mallory Kimball doesn’t remember much about the day she ran in front of a car.
She and her friend Kristyn, both juniors at the University of New Hampshire, were walking along Main St., when Mallory stopped suddenly. She stared at the ground. Mallory didn’t know where she was. Without warning, she darted into the street.
Kristyn grabbed her by the arm of her raincoat, pulling her back to the sidewalk before a car flew past.
Mallory had been experiencing regular blackouts, caused by overreactions in her brain, or seizures. But this particular seizure terrified her. She knew she was a danger to herself and others. Over the next 24 hours, she pleaded with God for another way, but finally, she made the heart-wrenching decision to leave college and give up her dream of becoming a nurse.
Two weeks later, Mallory’s doctor explained that her “brain was turning to mush.” Lyme’s disease and five parasites were attacking her body. After years of seizures, memory loss, and physical and mental exhaustion, she felt some relief having a name for her symptoms. But now she faced the possibility of never being healed.
How do you react when you’re met with suffering and see no end in sight? Can your hope increase even when your circumstances don’t change?
Mallory’s story is about physical suffering that hasn’t ended, somehow growing a hope that doesn’t fail. How is that possible?
She allowed herself to feel.
Though she’s made progress since her diagnosis, Mallory continues to experience debilitating seizures and dangerous blackouts. She isn’t allowed to drive, making it hard to be independent. She struggles with confinement and feeling trapped.
“It has been hard seeing all my friends move on with life, becoming successful, and growing in friendship with each other,” Mallory says. “Watching from the sidelines, unable to be a part of it, is one of the hardest and most lonely parts of this trial.”
She also deals with memory loss. “Even though I know it’s not my fault, it’s still embarrassing and I feel ashamed when I introduce myself to people three or four times before remembering them.”
Everyday is a battle to get out of bed and choose to have joy. There are days when she experiences deep sadness over her condition. But she talks to God about it. “Lord, You’ve given me this burden to bear, but I’m just tired of bearing it,” she prays. “I’ve seen you use it, but when will it end?”
She cries out to God, telling Him about her heartbreak in giving up nursing. She’s wept, expressed her confusion; and in her vulnerability, God brings her peace and hope.
She finds hope in salvation, rather than in healing.
Though Mallory longs to be healed, she knows that may never happen. “It’s a constant mental surrender to God,” she says. “That means giving control, but it also means giving Him every hope and dream I’ve ever had.”
Because of her condition, Mallory longs for the future hope of eternity. “I just ponder day and night what that will be like when we have perfect bodies,” Mallory says.
She allows God to use her story.
People frequently ask Mallory how she’s doing. This creates opportunities to talk about the gospel and her joy in Jesus.
“I’m actually getting worse,” she tells people. “I experience brain damage and that’s really hard every single day. I have hopes and dreams, but I’m just feeling myself deteriorate. And at the same time, I can say what has been really foundational in my daily battle for joy is that I get to experience God. I don’t fear the future and I don’t fear death. And that’s because I have the eternal promise of Christ.”
Because she has more free time, she has begun mentoring high school girls and investing time in her younger siblings. God has used this to show her that she has other passions beyond nursing. “God just brought out this passion for ministry that I never thought I would have.”
Mallory keeps communicating with God, even in her frustration, confusion, and sadness. Because of her vulnerability in prayer, God has room to speak gently to her, reminding her that He is always present and that He will sustain her. She has hope in her future restoration, even if that means her healing comes only in heaven.